A: The problem with giving people freedom is that so many of them use it to do bad things. Just take the example of the evolution of music, in some ways. Back in the day people would dance orderly dances to nice music. That kept up until the 50’s or 60’s or so, when Rock ‘n’ Roll music took over, and it didn’t seem as suitable for the more orderly dances. Rock bands started being more risqué in what they did and wore onstage. Consider a case with Elvis Presley, who did something around 1956 that almost instigated his arrest – but nowadays that action would be even too tame for what has become commonplace at rock concerts.
B: One might think of this as an “abuse” of freedom. If we punished people for every choice that they made that we didn’t agree with, they wouldn’t really have any freedom. So when freedom is granted, it’s natural to expect that there will be some “wrong” choices made, or choices that we don’t agree with.
But I think that it would be a mistake to assume that the more freedom is given, the more inevitable it is that we abuse it to the point that society becomes degenerate. Take your example: while you can’t do anything about how rock stars or musicians choose to present their art, if you give them the freedom to do it as they choose, you can choose how you react to it. If you refuse to support any such thing – by, say, not attending such concerts, or listening to their music, or not encouraging the risqué behavior – you can help stem the tide of debauchery. Such behavior is really an attempt to get a reaction, or some kind of desired attention, from the crowd. If the crowd doesn’t react to it in the way the rock stars want, then they’ll be less inclined to do such a thing. If we’re wondering why there seems to be so much vice in this world in comparison to what there was a few short decades ago, we may find that we have ourselves to blame just as much as those who presented it in the first place as publicly acceptable, simply for having tolerated it. (We talked about this before.) Reminds me of this here pome1:
Vice is a monster of so frightful mien,
As to be hated needs but to be seen;
Yet seen too oft, familiar with her face,
We first endure, then pity, then embrace.
A: I believe it’s actually spelled “poem.”
B: What? Oh. So it is. Anyway, we’ve got to remember that we each have a choice about whether or not we’ll accept a certain behavior, and that we don’t have to follow the crowd, no matter how popular it is. This may seem obvious, but there seem to be a bunch of people who feel like they are forced to believe certain things because of some supposedly irresistible pressure from a crowd.
- Attr. to Alexander Pope (1688-1744). ↩